Ofsted watch: Three ‘new’ apprenticeship providers make reasonable progress

Three ‘new’ apprenticeship providers have been found to be making ‘reasonable progress’ in all areas, while an adult and community learning provider has held onto its grade two rating this week.

Monitoring visit reports into apprenticeship providers SIGTA Limited, FWD Training and Consultancy and Northwest Education and Training Limited were all published this week, with all three making ‘reasonable progress’ in all themes under review.

But none of the three actually new – having all had previous experience delivering apprenticeships as subcontractors.

Early monitoring visits of new apprenticeship providers were first announced by Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman last November, and were were intended to sniff out “scandalous” attempts to waste public money.

Their introduction is believed to be a result of growing concerns around the number of untested training providers that had made it onto the register, and therefore had access to potentially huge sums of public money.

But only a handful of the visits carried out so far have actually been to genuinely new providers.

SIGTA Limited has “extensive experience” in offering apprenticeships as a subcontractor, which leaders and managers were found to be building on to deliver direct levy-funded provision, according to a report published July 11 and based on a visit in mid-June.

Managers at SIGTA “provide a thorough recruitment process” which employers value “highly”, and which results in a “high retention” rate of apprentices remaining on their programme.

Directors and managers at FWD Training and Consultancy “share a vision and ambition” to offer high-quality financial services apprenticeships, according to a report published July 11 and based on a visit in early June.

The provider was a subcontractor from 2014 until it began delivering levy-funded apprenticeships in 2017.

“The majority of apprentices are highly motivated, enjoy their apprenticeship and develop new skills, knowledge and behaviours relevant to their job roles,” the report noted.

Leaders and managers at Northwest Education and Training Limited have “transferred successfully” their previous experience as a subcontractor to a college and private provider since 2013.

They “recruit apprentices with integrity and ensure that each learner is on the right level of programme” and “work closely with employers to select appropriate apprentices”, including reducing the number of apprentices with employers who are “unable to commit to sufficient off-the-job training”.

Leaders at Enfield London Borough Council were praised for establishing a “strong and highly effective supportive internship programme”, in a report published July 9 and based on an inspection in mid-June.

The provider delivers work-placements and work-related qualifications for young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities, and had 12 learners on programme when it was inspected.

These learners “work in a range of placements which reflect their career aspirations, such as horticulture, early years settings and retail outlets” and “benefit from good impartial careers advice and guidance which enable them to make informed decisions about their future careers”, the report said.

Leaders and managers “work effectively” with parents and carers “to support learners to progress into employment”.

“Parents appreciate the opportunity for learners to become more independent in their daily lives,” the report said.

A third monitoring visit report for Learndirect Limited following its ‘inadequate’ verdict last summer was published this week.

While inspectors noted a number of improvements at the troubled provider, leaders were found to have been making ‘insufficient progress’ in ensuring a “smooth transition” for apprentices transferring to other training providers by the end of July, when its government skills contracts finally end.

Two other independent providers held onto the grade two ratings following short inspections this week: Lite (Stockport) Limited, and Focus Training (SW) Limited.

No inspection reports for general FE or sixth colleges, or for employer providers, were published this week.


Independent Learning Providers Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
SIGTA Ltd 20/06/2018 11/07/2018 M M
FWD Training and Consultancy Limited 05/06/2018 11/07/2018 M M
Northwest Education and Training Limited 25/06/2018 09/07/2018 M M
Learndirect Limited 12/06/2018 09/07/2018 M M


Adult and Community Learning Inspected Published Grade Previous grade
Enfield London Borough Council 18/06/2018 09/07/2018 2 2


Short inspections (remains grade 2) Inspected Published
Lite (Stockport) Limited 19/06/2018 12/07/2018
Focus Training (SW) Limited 14/06/2018 10/07/2018

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